Recently I was chatting with a neighbour about projects I'd like to complete on the property. Living in relative isolation on a rural property teaches you many lessons, and if you don't learn them in a hurry, you're not going to manage well.
I've always prided myself on being organized, knowing where things are, remembering details, and having my to-do list close to completion. I don't mind not knowing what I'll be doing next. In my previous life, making jewellery, I've often had to sleep on a problem to come up with a good solution, and I've come to trust that the solution will present itself when I need it.
Out here, the problems tend to come at you in bunches. Sometimes you're busy being proactive on one thing, and feeling rather pleased about being so on top of it, when a crisis occurs somewhere else. Invariably, this intervening problem is going to be urgent, expensive to fix, and very unsettling to live with in the meantime. There have been a few occasions where I've so badly needed some distance from a problem that's cropped up that I've nearly gone and booked myself a hotel room somewhere else.
My most important principle living here is "you're going to fix it yourself". That doesn't mean I'm going to take up plumbing, though I did repair a leak from a bathtub into my basement ceiling. It also means I'm not going to become an electrician, though I do move electrical outlets around when required. I've learned pool maintenance, though I live in perpetual fear of forgetting everything I know over the winter. I once fixed the propane furnace myself, and if you ever want to feel powerful, fixing a furnace will give you that.
But I digress.
There I was chatting with a neighbour about something-or-other that I wanted to get done, and she asked, "Where is that on your Five Year Plan?" I was gobsmacked. I've been here for over two and a half years, and it has never occurred to me to develop a Five Year Plan. I have vague aspirations about removing the rest of that gravel down there, dumping a ton of soil and compost and stuff where the gravel used to be, and growing a field of lavender in its place. I want to dismantle the old solar heating array for the pool and plant something in its place. Something that requires a lot of sun. I'd like to replace all the eavestroughs and downspouts on the house. But it's a big house and it's a big expense for something that is not strictly necessary...yet. I started the project this summer, replacing everything on the south wall, and my intention is to do a section every summer, till one of us - me or the property - is done.
I'm genuinely delighted with how much I've accomplished so far, and I love using my winters to plan what I'll do next summer. What I now know for certain is that, whatever I have planned, what I'll actually be doing is something bigger, unexpected, more urgent, far more expensive, and well above my pay grade when the summer of '22 rolls around.
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